Camping and travel restrictions
The Alsek River corridor represents a large portion of the important habitat available to black bears and grizzly bears in Kluane. To help protect grizzly bears and their habitat, the upper portion of the Alsek River (from the confluence of the Kaskawulsh and Dezadeash rivers to Lowell Lake) has been designated a Special Preservation Area.
To reduce the potential for bear-human encounters and displacement of bears from important habitats the following restrictions are in effect within the Special Preservation Area:
- Designated camping
- One night restriction
- Goatherd Mountain Closure Area
- Off river travel
- Food storage
- Restrictions for whole river
Camping is restricted to designated campsites and/or camping areas.
To minimize the effects of river travel on normal bear activity, the movements of river users should be as predictable as possible. Bears are able to adjust their activities to avoid humans based on predictable behaviour. Some predictability may be accomplished by having regularly spaced departures and by having rafters use designated campsites.
The regular use of designated campsites will make it easier for bears to adjust to human activities, but it also may raise other concerns that need to be considered. Some bears may become habituated to the regular presence of humans and therefore become bolder in their activities around these sites. This may increase the risk of bear-human encounters. For this reason, bear interactions with humans must be reported (refer to Reporting Bear Incidents).
In addition, human food and garbage scents may become more prevalent at these sites through regular use and due to careless handling of food and garbage. This could potentially attract habituated bears into the campsites to investigate scents. For this reason, campsites with lower potential for bear-human encounters or bear displacement have been identified and designated for use.
Where possible, cooking areas should be located on the active floodplain so that they are periodically flooded and cleaned of lingering scents. Proper handling and storage of food and garbage are essential to the success of any human-bear conflict program.
Important points regarding designated campsites
- All designated campsites have the potential for bear-human encounters and displacement of bears. Read the materials provided so that you can reduce risk to yourself and the bears that you will encounter.
- Only designated campsites were assessed for the potential risk of bear-human encounters and displacement of bears. Other potential campsites within designated camping areas may have a higher risk for negative bear-human conflicts.
- Campsites hazard ratings are relative to other campsites assessed. High quality grizzly bear habitat is found along the entire length of the Alsek Valley. The river edge is also an important travel corridor for bears.
- Major game trails parallel both sides of the river. These trails are used regularly by bears, and in many cases trails pass close to designated campsites. Designated campsites have alternative travel routes around the area for bears to move if they detect the campsite is occupied.
- Camp in the open as far away as possible from trails and features that limit visibility.
- The benefits of designated camping can only be achieved if bears do not learn that human food and garbage can be obtained from campsites. Store food and garbage appropriately.
- Campsite designation may change if changes in bear behaviour at designated campsites occur, problems with bears develop, or lower risk alternatives are assessed.
One night restriction
Camping between the confluence of the Kaskawulsh and Dezadeash Rivers and campsite # 9 above Lowell Lake is limited to one night only per group per trip.
The goal of the one night restriction between the confluence of the Kaskawulsh and Dezadeash Rivers and campsite # 9 above Lowell Lake is to minimize the number of people in the Special Preservation Area at any one time, and thus reduce human caused displacement of bears.
Goatherd Mountain Closure Area
Camping is prohibited in the Goatherd Mountain closure area and is limited to the eastern edge of Lowell Lake with a maximum stay of two nights.
The base of Goatherd Mountain is a major travel route for bears moving past Lowell Lake. Use of this area has a high potential for encounters and for the displacement bears. Bear movement is funnelled through open non-vegetated terrain along the base of a steep mountain face. Camping outside the closure area, and minimizing your length of stay at Lowell Lake, will help to reduce the long-term human impacts on bears.
Off river travel
Campsite hazard ratings do not take hiking into consideration. Off river travel (e.g. day hikes) is not encouraged due to the risk of bear-human encounters and the possible disturbance to bears. Do not leave rafts or camps unattended while hiking. At least one person must stay to watch the boats and/or camp.
It is mandatory to ensure your food and garbage is not accessible to bears.
Bears are opportunistic and quick to learn. As they become habituated to people, the potential for bears to obtain human food and garbage increases. Food-conditioned bears are dangerous. If human food and garbage are not secured from bears, it is only a matter of time before food-conditioned bears become a threat to human safety.
The Alsek River corridor will only continue to be a wilderness area, free of food conditioned bears, by preventing bears from accessing your food and garbage. This is your responsibility as a river user.
These simple steps will help:
- keep your campsite clean and leave it clean when you leave
- never leave your campsite, boats, or food unattended
- use bear resistant containers and/or portable electric fences to secure food and garbage.
Approved bear resistant containers (approved coolers, canisters, raft boxes) and/or portable electric fences are required to help prevent bears from accessing human food. Portable electric fences have proven to be successful in helping to deter bears from camp areas.
Preventing bears from accessing human food or garbage requires extra effort. As a river user, this is the most important thing you can do to prevent the demise of the grizzly bear populations in this region and increase your personal safety.
Remember: It is mandatory to ensure that human food and garbage is secured or contained in such a manner that it is inaccessible to bears (e.g. bear resistant containers; electric fences etc.).
Restrictions for whole river
- Fire pans are required for campfires. Camp stoves are recommended, since driftwood and deadwood are limited and difficult to obtain
- All garbage and human waste must be packed out. Human waste disposal systems are available for rent from commercial suppliers.
- Removal of natural or historical objects from the park is prohibited
- Firearms are prohibited in Kluane National Park and Reserve
- Motors are prohibited